BHCHP Blog: A View from the Bridge

Welcome to BHCHP's blog, A View from the Bridge! This is a place for us to share our work with you, our supporters, partners, neighbors and friends. Check back often for stories and updates from our patients, staff, volunteers, donors, supporters and partners, or subscribe via email below.

Last year, Medical Director Denise De Las Nueces, MD, spoke to federal public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta about BHCHP’s very successful response to last year’s outbreak of meningococcal disease, a potentially deadly bacterial infection among homeless shelter guests.

by Jessie M. Gaeta, MD; Melanie Racine, MPH.

These guidelines, developed by the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program in partnership with the Boston Public Health Commission and its needle exchange program, AHOPE, are intended to increase the preparedness of people in congregate housing and shelters to respond safely and effectively to opioid overdoses.

We are entering the height of the flu season, which means that cases of flu are on the rise. The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. Here are some helpful tips to keep you healthy during flu season.

Transgender health care is considered an emerging field, but at BHCHP it has been part of our practice since 2008, when nurse Pam Klein launched a pilot program based on her experience working in transgender health in San Francisco. Among other services, we offer primary and urgent care, behavioral health, a support group, and hormone replacement therapy at our South End location, and we connect patients to Boston Medical Center (BMC) for medical/surgical services as needed. We also offer services at several of our other locations such as Pine Street Inn, Bridge over Troubled Waters, and the New England Center and Home for Veterans.

A new community outreach initiative spearheaded by The Kraft Center for Community Health at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) seeks to better engage with individuals struggling with addiction and complex health conditions who are not well connected to health care services. CareZone, a mobile health van, is being funded by The Kraft Center for Community Health and brings together collaborators from GE Foundation, Ford Motor Company, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) and the Boston Public Health Commission’s harm reduction and needle exchange site, AHOPE.

Our BHCHP’s enthusiastic Emerging Leaders Board (ELB) is excited for their third year and have planned lots of engaging educational, social and networking events open to all of Boston’s young professionals.

Our relationships with Boston Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital are unique in the country, and distinguish BHCHP from all of the other 250 health care for the homeless programs across the country. By sharing our mission, these academic teaching hospitals have incorporated our health care of homeless persons into the fabric of their own daily clinical mission to assure excellence in the care of our most vulnerable neighbors. The quiet legacy of BMC and MGH, two world-class institutions, to serve our patients is a truly singular commitment that has withstood the test.

Winter in New England poses many challenges to us all, but as you might imagine, cold weather is a particularly intense threat for our patients here at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. As the nights grow longer and the temperature drops, our patients are especially at risk. So what are we doing to prepare our patients and what can you do to help?

When people think of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, they typically consider our medical or behavioral health work on the street or in over 40 shelter or hospital locations in Boston. Case management is one of the vital parts of our work that focuses on supporting the important social circumstances of our patients, which can be critical to their overall good health.

BHCHP has participated in planning Boston’s Transgender Day of Remembrance event for the past six years and this year sponsored the event as well. This year, BHCHP hosted our own Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) event for the first time. TDOR is a global, annual event to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.